An alleged cult now based on Oahu's windward side is featured in a new movie that's getting critical acclaim, and will debut in Honolulu on Friday.
But for one Kailua man, who says he escaped the group, the upcoming Hawaii premiere is spurring threats of violence.
"Holy Hell" is a documentary that's gotten praise in the film festival circuit on the mainland and in Europe. On Friday and Saturday, it will be featured at the Rainbow Film Festival in Honolulu.
The movie is about a filmmaker who spent decades in the group, which started in Los Angeles. Filmmaker Will Allen says he fell under the spell of the group's leader, Michel Rostand. Rostand identifies himself as a spiritual guru, but Allen claims he brainwashed followers.
Several former members are interviewed in the movie, including Kailua yoga teacher Murti Hower.
Hower said he was with the group for more than 20 years and followed them to Hawaii.
He said the alleged cult is now on the windward side, and is recruiting.
And since leaving the group, Hower said, he's been threatened. Those threats have gotten worse as the debut of the film gets closer.
One incident in March launched a police investigation. Hower says a man went to his yoga studio and terrorized him, telling him, "I will hunt you down and I will kill you."
Honolulu Police investigated the case and it has been forwarded to the Honolulu Prosecutor's Office for review.
"Holy Hell" will be shown at the Doris Duke Theater for the film festival. Friday's show is sold out.
Hower hopes the film will bring more attention to a life he says he is still trying to escape.